With federal policymakers pushing to establish a domestic solar manufacturing industry, it has emerged India will provide $131 million (INR968 crore) of soft loans for the government of Bangladesh to develop a 100 MW solar park.
The 325-acre solar project, to be built on a mainly government-owned khas site leased from the Bangladesh Ministry of Land, will take shape with the help of at least 75% of Indian goods and services, under the terms of New Delhi’s foreign credit rules.
Dhaka will directly provide $40 million for the project, with its state-owned Rural Power Company Ltd supplying a further $5.9 million (INR43.6 crore). The solar farm, near the Jamuna river in Bangladesh’s northeastern Jamalpur district, is expected to come online by December 2023 and the authorities are already planning a second 100 MW solar project nearby, with an unnamed Chinese company.
The Bangladesh Planning Commission has directed a dam planned to surround the renewables project be planted with trees.
Rural Power Company’s Sabur said he hoped development could start soon, provided the plan is approved by the executive committee of the National Economic Council, the highest decision making body in Bangladesh.
The Indian-financed solar park was originally planned for the Bagerhat district in the southwest of Bangladesh but was moved on ecological grounds because bodies of water on that site would have had to be landfilled to make way for the panels.
Dhaka is cranking up its renewable energy efforts after falling far short of its ambition to draw 10% of its electricity from renewables by last year. With around 730 MW of clean energy generation capacity, renewables made up around 3% of the energy mix in 2020.
The nation’s latest five-year plan, which runs until 2025, features “aggressive efforts” to support renewables development and work is under way to update a decade-old national clean energy policy.
By Syful Islam
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